Meeting the needs

Guidance that helps to identify suitable responses to the needs and issues professionals encounter when working with children, young people and families

The needs of children and young people and their families is always considered on a case by case basis, with responses from services based on the assessment carried out with young people and families, and where appropriate, relevant statutory guidance.

The Meeting the Needs threshold guidance is not intended to be prescriptive, exhaustive or definitive document that determines how children, young people and families can access, or move on from a particular service or range of services.

Practitioners always should use their professional judgement, experience and training and not take literally the example indicators contained within the document, due to the need to take account of support and resources available, local policies and Suffolk County Council priorities.

“Local authorities are not expected to meet every individual need, but they are asked to identify the extent of need and then make decisions on the priorities for service provision in their area in the context of that information and their statutory duties” (Children Act 1989 Regulations and Guidance Volumes Vol 2 para 2.11).

Download - Meeting the needs threshold guidance from the LSCB website

Download - multi-agency referral form for Children's social care

The continuum of children and young people's needs

The threshold continuum identifies:

  • a set of risk and resilience triggers, and 
  • the four levels of need and their corresponding service intervention.

The four levels of need as agreed by the Children's Trust Partnership are:

(Level 1) Universal  – children and young people who are achieving expected outcomes and have their needs met within universal service provision without any additional support.

(Level 2) Early intervention – vulnerable children and young people who are starting to divert from expected outcomes and will require additional support for a time limited period.

(Level 3) Targeted – vulnerable children and young people with multiple and complex needs, who are not achieving the expected outcomes, and require more intensive but time limited support, includes Child in Need threshold.

(Level 4) Specialist – vulnerable children and young people with acute or highly complex needs, who require intensive help and support from a limited range of specialist/statutory services including Children’s Social Care.

Key learning

In any tiered approach, the following is crucial to ensure a range of service provision is available to meet the range of need of children in the community and to ensure that the appropriate services are accessed:

  • children and young people can and do move from one level to another; sometimes very quickly.
  • children and young people in levels 2 - 4 also need, and use universal services.
  • repeated assessments are not necessary to move children/young people from one tier to another - their stories can follow them as they progress through service provision.
  • there will be some children and young people, for example those with complex needs, who should be enabled to move quickly and effortlessly to the required service response without necessarily going up through each level.
  • for most children and young people, the service aspiration is to secure them as low down the levels of need as possible.

When using the threshold of need descriptors, for some children and young people it will be clear where they fall on the continuum. For others a practitioner may need to use the threshold guidance in the appendix to make a judgement about whether or not the child /young person has additional unmet needs, and whether a common assessment would be appropriate, to help clarify the need and subsequent appropriate response.

It is expected that most referrals to children's Social Care Services will be supported by a common assessment framework (CAF) process.

  • Find out more about the CAF process - including accessing the CAF form.